Growing up in a Jamaican culture, there are a few situations and instances that are not treated lightly or taken for granted. In some other cultures, the equivalent of these may seem frugal, but in our culture these are a big deal!
Here are 10 examples of things Jamaicans take seriously.
To many this is just a card game, to Jamaicans its way more than “just a game”. Played mainly by males, this is usually a pastime game at the bar on the corner or in the square. Some communities hold competitive tournaments as well. The game can be deeply competitive and nerve racking. The slamming of dominoes, standing on the table or chair and running around the house with the winning domino is just a few of the gimmicks you observe while watching a game. Some players will draw cards (funny insults) at each other or make comments to throw off the other player. The highlight of the game is usually the person who gets the “Six Love” (loses 6 consecutive games), he or she may want to compete again soon to offset this tag.
2. JLP vs PNP and Politics
For years there has been a political divide amongst Jamaican citizens, so intense it can become violent. While other built up communities accept and agree to disagree on politics, there are some inner city communities who have a die-hearted preference. If you live within these areas, you have to live by and support their preference or be silent about your own political preference, especially as it nears election time. You also have to be mindful about the colours you wear, because to them it sends a message. In recent times the population has grown in this realm and have learned to accept differences in opinions and preference but there are still some communities where caution is required.
3. Partner draw
The most traditional saving scheme in Jamaica is the Partner. Several persons contribute a fixed sum of money for a specific period of time into a pool, and each person can withdraw the accumulated sum as initially agreed upon. These were popular among our fore-parents and have been adopted down by generations. Jamaicans use this means of saving especially if they have a short term goal, so whenever it is their turn to get their “partner draw” they do not joke around. The bankers (people coordinating the partner plan and saving the money, will always try to have the full amount on hand for each person to be able to get their draw without issues.
4. Who they eat from, especially curry
The Jamaican taste buds are very peculiar. While we have a rich food culture, we love our spices and seasonings and we are also very peculiar about how different dishes should be prepared and the cleanliness with which the meal is prepared. With this mindset, Jamaicans tend to not eat from just about every one, especially curry dishes. Curry dishes are notorious to cause diarrhea when they are not prepared properly. Stew peas is another dish that Jamaicans, especially men, are very particular about who they eat from as old folktale claims that a “woman can “tie” a man with stew peas”.
5. Crowds running after someone
Jamaicans are sometimes described as a group of people who “love excitement” and excitement usually draws a crowd. They are also very curious and always want to know what is going on. So whenever they see a crowd running after someone, they want to know the details – who the person is, what they did, why people are running the person down – and if it is a case where the person is a thief, they join in and may even “give him a lick” – the Jamaican jungle justice meted out to people who steal.
6. Their Clarks Shoes
Jamaicans have a special love for Clarks shoes. They spend a lot of money on buying it, getting it cleaned and restored if needed. The national shoes of Jamaica, as it has been referenced, is famous around the world for its good quality material, sturdiness, longevity and appeal. A lot of Jamaican artistes have done songs referencing Clarks and the different versions Wallabee and Desert. One thing for sure, if you come close to a Jamaican wearing a pair of Clarks, ensure you don’t step on it.
7. Reggae Boyz
The competitive edge in Jamaicans will see them being loyal to a team that represents them on every level, whether it be on a local or international platform. Even though they have been disappointing and had only one World Cup appearance, Jamaicans will still greet the team like they are winning every title. They will still support and defend the team if someone speaks badly about them. They want to be the only one criticizing their own team.
8. Track and Field
Track and field is another well loved sport on the island. Jamaicans get involved in track and field activities from as early as preschool (basic) stages. They have sports day at their individual schools and also compete against other schools on the island in an event called Boys and Girls School Championships – popularly referred to as Champs. Most Jamaican athletes grew in our eyes from these stages, until they move on to represent the island in international competitions. Pots and pans come out during the World Championships and Olympic games and no matter where you are or what you are doing, at race time, all eyes are glued to a live stream and once we have won then the sound of the pots and pans knocking together follows, engulfing the atmosphere.
9. The best Dancehall DJ
Dancehall is a staple on the island, even tourists love it. Jamaicans always have a favorite DJ (artiste), who they listen to religiously, being able to recite the lyrics of almost all their songs. There is always a debate on who is the best DJ, or who has the “baddest lyrics”. Some will argue whether it is Buju Banton, Vybz Kartel, Ninja Man, Bounty Killa or Beenie Man or even the next DJ that they love. Sting was a very popular concert series back in the days where the DJs would lyrically clash against each other and this would be the highlight of the show.
10. Their High School
High schools are very near and dear to the heart of students who attended these schools. Most Jamaicans only ID by the school they go to. Some won’t even wear the colors of rival schools, for example a KC Old boy might not wear green which is the color of Calabar, while a JC past student might not wear purple which is the color of KC. Most students and past students hold their high school in high esteem and will speak proudly of or defend their schools.
Tell us if we missed anything in the comments below!
Photo – Deposit Photos